ASHEVILLE – After refusing to accept a plea deal and being sentenced to 19 years in prison, an ex-doctor and marijuana advocate has pleaded guilty to giving teachers pot candy without their knowledge.

In exchange, Monroe Gordon Piland III, 73, had an opioid trafficking charge dropped and was not required to serve any more time after spending nearly four years in prison.

Buncombe County Superior Court Judge Alan Thornburg accepted Piland’s plea during an Oct. 28 hearing in which he also determined the former U.S. Naval Academy graduate, who said marijuana is an “essential nutrient,” was competent to stand trial.

Piland was freed Oct. 7 to revisit the charges with questions being asked about his competency.

Charges started with candy in 2013

Piland lost his medical license after he was convicted in the early 1980s of growing marijuana on his property in the Outer Banks.

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